Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nortel disabled take battle to Supreme Court

Toronto Sun

Nortel disabled take battle to Supreme Court


Last Updated: February 8, 2011 4:05pm

OTTAWA - For a group of former Nortel employees who had their long-term disability, health, dental and pension benefits cut off at the end of last year, there is nowhere to go but up.

The workers will stage their final stand outside the Supreme Court in their long-running attempt to be moved closer to the head of the creditor line when the dying company's assets are finally doled out.

The disabled workers object to a $57-million sunset deal negotiated by a court-appointed monitor with the company in February 2010.

In that deal, Nortel agreed to fund long-term disability benefits until Dec. 31, 2010. In exchange, the employees lost their right to sue the company and any of its executives over the drastically underfunded trust account Nortel had supposedly self-insured.

As common creditors, they can expect an average of only 34% of what they had been receiving up until the end of last year.

Once Nortel is legally out of business, the workers will find themselves in a pool with other common creditors fighting for a small percentage of the dead company's assets.

Unable to work, many are afraid they won't be able to afford expensive medications and bills without going on social assistance.

Mark Zigler of Koskie Minsky LLP, the court-appointed law firm representing the former workers, has repeatedly said court battles would be costly and doomed to failure.

Toronto attorney Joel Rochon came on board on an unpaid retainer last year and is leading the fight for the disabled with independent financial analyst Diane Urquhart.

No court date has yet been scheduled.

1 comment:

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